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AirTags: How to set up, pair Apple's bite-size trackers

Apple AirTags look cool and can help you easily find misplaced items. Here's what you need to know about setting up and pairing the trackers.

Apple AirTag
Here's everything to know about how to set up and use your AirTags once you buy them.
Patrick Holland/CNET

Apple's AirTags trackers are handy devices that help make sure you don't lose your belongings. The beacon-style devices work similarly to Tile and Samsung's SmartTag Bluetooth trackers and can help you find lost items like your keys, backpack and more by tracking them with the Find My app. They're compatible with iPhones, iPods and iPads running iOS 14.5 or iPadOS 14.5 or later. 

Apple AirTags cost $29 (£29, AU$45) each or $99 (£99, AU$149) for a pack of four, and have been available to buy since April. You can also find different AirTags accessories like keychains and eyeglasses straps available from third-party sellers such as Belkin. 

But once you get your AirTags, how do you actually use them? Here's what you need to know about getting started with AirTags.

Read more: AirTags vs. Tile vs. Samsung SmartTag

How to set up your Apple AirTags

Apple says the AirTags setup is similar to how you activate AirPods. Here's what to do once you've got the devices in hand. 

1. Locate the Find My app on your iPhone or compatible Apple device. The app should be preinstalled, but you'll need to set it up

2. Pair your AirTag with your iPhone. All you have to do is bring the AirTag close to your iPhone, and it should connect. 

3. Follow the onscreen steps to name your tagged item (e.g., "My car keys" if you're attaching your AirTag to your keys) and register it to your Apple ID.

apple-airtag-pairing-screen-042021-inline-jpg-large

Pairing your AirTags with your iPhone is easy thanks to Bluetooth technology. 

Apple

4. Once the AirTag is paired, you should be able to see it under Items in the app, where you'll be able to see its current or last known location on a map. 

5. Physically attach the AirTag to whatever item you'd like to keep track of -- your keys, your phone, anything. 

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How to use AirTags to find your stuff

Use the Find My app

One cool feature: If the item you've misplaced is within Bluetooth range, you can use the Find My app to play a sound from the AirTag to help you find it. You can also ask Siri to find the item, and the AirTag will play a sound if it's nearby. If you have an iPhone 11iPhone 12 or iPhone 13, you'll be able to take advantage of the Precision Finding feature, which can help guide you to the AirTag with more precise directions. 

Can't find it anywhere? Turn on AirTags Lost Mode

If you've misplaced your item in a public place, you can place the AirTag in Lost Mode and get notified once it's in range or has been located by the Find My network. If someone finds it, they can tap it using their iPhone or another NFC-capable device (including an Android phone) and be taken to a website to display the contact information for the owner, if you've set that up.

For more, check out how to use the Find My app, everything to know about iOS 14.6 and our iOS 15 review.

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